POTD Kelly Johnson, 2B

San-Man answered our Q's on Kelly Johnson, which got Eye-Gor to noodling around in the cave...

KJ's actually a pretty clear template from a sabermetric standpoint.  He got off track by (1) cutting down his swing (a lot) to make contact, and (2) expanding his strike zone (a lot) to not make contact.

Could a great batting coach fix him?  Well, you be da judge...

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=== What Time Is the Game Over, Dept. ===

KJ's contact rate on swings in the zone went wayyyyyy up in 2009 ... Johnson made contact on a preposterous (for him) 94% of all swings, when the ball was inside the strike zone.

94% - KJ

79% - Dunn

78% - Howard

77% - Cust

75% - Branyan

Raul Ibanez was at 82%, Adam Jones at 83%, Jason Bay at 80%, Mike Cameron at 82% ... contact rate in the strike zone essentially sorts ML hitters by who is hitting for power (or trying to). 

Go to fangraphs, batters, plate discipline, sort by Z-Contact%, and you'll see the names line up beautifully in terms of how hard they're swinging.  (You'll also get a laugh out of Albert Pujols' stats.)

Other guys in Kelly Johnson's sky-high Z-Contact% range ... Christian Guzman, Jimmy Rollins, David DeJesus, Rafael Furcal, Chone Figgins.  You don't make contact with everything by putting your backside into it, kiddies.  You make contact with everything by arm-swinging.

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=== Dumb Luck Dept. ===

Just the same, a pepper swing shouldn't produce the .240'ish BABIP that KJ ran.  That's getting into pitcher-at-the-plate BABIP.

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=== Not the Best Plate Strategy, Keed ===

What is really interesting is that while KJ cut down his swing to make more contact, he also wayyyyyy expanded his strike zone -- swinging at far more pitches outside the zone.  

Here is a fine article by Brian Joura on it.  KJ swung at 18% of O-Zone's in 200 ... but 24-25% the last two years.  Yowch.

So what happens if you cut down your swing to be sure you make contact, and then start swinging at pitchers' pitches?   Well, you're going to roll over a lot of grounders to the shortstop and second baseman.  

KJ doesn't have the speed to slap the ball around.  He's going to run a lousy BABIP when he's arm-swinging at pitchers' pitches.

.............

The fact that KJ felt the need to cut down his swing suggests that he felt beaten by ML pitchers in 2008-09 ... and the fact that he stopped recognizing strikes suggests that he got all messed up inside his head.

KJ looks like a pretty serious reclamation project to me:  he's got to get back to contracting his zone, waiting for his pitch, and hitting the ball hard ... but his own opinion is that he's not capable of doing that.

It would be a masterly job of coaching that recovered him.

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=== Opportunity Fire for the Right Sargeant ===

Kelly Johnson, when right, has been an Orlando Hudson comp offensively -- solid AVG, 60 walks, good gap power, "meh" defensively as Sandy put it.

Right now, he's (evidently) available cheap.  He's either a free agent after Dec. 12 or available (undoubtedly) for a grade B prospect prior.  At $3M or so, you supposedly save $5M a season (??) off Orlando Hudson.  That's more talent someplace else on your roster.

...........

The decision would stand or fall with some coach being V-E-R-Y confident that KJ could get back to his get-your-pitch-and-hit-it-hard game.  Whether the M's coaches think that, who knows.

The ideal diagnosis would be, KJ (1) opened up his strike zone, swinging at sucker pitches, and THEN (2) cut down his swing in self-defense, following the lousy results.  If so, then simply getting him to cut down the strike zone, could naturally restore his aggressiveness, right?

.........

Me?  I'll believe it when I see it.  If KJ doesn't think he can hit, why should I think so?  That's not a swipe; it's an analysis.  KJ's opinion on his own ability is very relevant.

But the M's brain trust is super-confident about reclamation projects, so, eyes slideways I guess.

Cheers,

Dr D

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moethedogAnd a BTW: I would have bet anything, when I heard of the deal, that the next would basically be Smoak for Rios...and that it would follow within the hour. I was wrong.7 hours 36 min ago
moethedogWas on the way to pick my youngest daughter up at basketball camp today, listening to MLB Radio, when they announced the Morales trade. They gave kudos to Jack for pulling it off, saying he had been at if for weeks. If this trade took weeks to work out something is amiss. They ask for ERam, we offer Pries, we meet in the middle with Pryor. This one should take 3 minutes.7 hours 54 min ago
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bsrBut hey, he's got company. That's 12 shutouts against the M's in 102 games this year.8 hours 43 min ago
bsrHey now, Hector Noesi has thrown 9.2 shutout innings against us this year...8 hours 47 min ago
bsrEndy Chavez, pinch "hitting" for Corey Hart. Yeah, I think the Hart signing has not worked out as hoped.8 hours 51 min ago
tjmWow. PH Endy for Hart. What's that tell you about Hart? Why is he on the team if you're pinch-hitting him with one of the worst hitters in MLB?8 hours 52 min ago
SABR MattBrutal game. This team is a friggin' joke. And I don't get it.9 hours 1 min ago
MtGrizzlyFun gif for the Montero fans: http://gfycat.com/ImprobableAptAmericancrayfish#9 hours 42 min ago
Gordon GrossHector's still got a 5+ ERA for the year, terry. He has those good games when he can keep guys off base. Giving up a .800+ OPS against EVERY hitter this year. He might get better, but one game does not a good season make. Halama threw a no-hitter AND a perfect game.10 hours 6 min ago
IcebreakerXHart is like a falling tree at first. And Kuma is having an awful night.10 hours 42 min ago
Bat571Cooper is some kind of pitching coach.10 hours 44 min ago
phxterryFrom "They Always Get Better After They Leave" File: Hector Noesi through 7 innings tonight against the Twinkies: 0 runs, 1 hit.11 hours 17 min ago
phxterryIsn't there general agreement in the latest ballball theory that Teams should bat their best player second in the line-up?? Kind of like how the Angels bat Mike Trout second? Well, the Angels have nothing on the M's. Tonight, playing right field for the M's and batting second is ........... (drum roll)..... Stefen Romero, he of the .199/.240/.317 2014 slash line. Hope Iwakuma is sharp tonight. Go M's.11 hours 40 min ago
IcebreakerXMy favorite comment on LL about this (slightly modified)... Howie: "You have proven your superior intellect and defeated the plans of Kendrys Morales. You do not need to defeat him again." Z: “He tasks me. He tasks me and I shall have him. I’ll chase him round the moons of Nibia and round the Antares Maelstrom and round Perdition’s Flames before I give him up!”12 hours 20 min ago
phxterryLatest rumor is that GMZ has traded a sore-armed reliever to KC for Rauuuuuuul, traded a used back-up catcher to SF for Michael Morse, and traded a PTBNL to ESPN for Eric Wedge. And that was before he finished his breakfast Wheaties. Go Jack!!!12 hours 21 min ago
tjmThis pathetic. Z: I have got to thank ownership for allowing us to do this. They have said all along if we get a chance where we think we are in it, then we are going to give you the resources, in this particular case they stepped up and this was great. I really, really appreciate it, we all appreciate it. My hat is off to them. I don't know what else will happen, we will continue conversations."12 hours 27 min ago
GLSI like Stubbs, but his production this year is all about Coors Field. On the road, he's Ackley.12 hours 27 min ago